Big Spenders: Spend Your Way to Hotel Elite Status

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BIG SPENDER SERIES:

Hotel Elite Status via Credit Card Spending

The following cards give you extra hotel elite points once you cross a certain amount of spending on the card.

In my opinion, the best deal is spending $40,000 within a calendar year on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card or the American Express Hilton Surpass card and earning top-tier Hilton Diamond status which gets you room upgrades, free breakfast and internet, and other perks of being a top-tier elite member.

You will also get 120,000 Hilton redeemable points for spending $40,000 on both cards.  However, you will get 1 free night for spending more than $10,000 on the Citi Reserve card.

If you spend the $40,000 on the American Express Hilton card you will get access to the AXON awards where you only need 145,000 Hilton points (instead of 200,000 points) to book 4 nights at a top category 7 Hilton using an AXON award.

Spending $30,000 for Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold status seems like a waste to me, especially since you can get SPG Gold status for free with the American Express Platinum card.

I also wouldn’t spend $20,000 on the American Express Surpass card just to get Hilton Gold status, when I can get it for just a $95 annual fee with the Citi Hilton Reserve card.

I also wouldn’t spend $180,000 within a calendar year just to get Platinum status with Marriott because their top tier elite status isn’t particularly attractive, but your goals (and spending ability) could be very different from mine!

Definitions:

  • A Calendar Year refers to the 12 months from January 1 to December 31 of any year
  •  Redeemable points refers to miles which you can redeem for a hotel night or other merchandise
  • Elite points refers to miles which can NOT be redeemed for award seats, but count towards elite status in a hotel’s loyalty program

Top Tier Hotel Elite Status

You can earn top-tier:

  • Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year on the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express in addition to 120,000 Hilton Points (3 points per $1 spent)
  • Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year on the Citi Hilton Reserve card in addition to 120,000 Hilton Points (3 points per $1 spent) AND 1 free weekend night
  • Marriott Platinum status after spending $180,000 on the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card within a calendar year in addition to 180,000 Marriott points (1 point per $1 spent)

Mid Tier Hotel Elite Status

You can earn mid-tier:

  • Ritz-Carlton Gold elite status after spending $10,000 on the Ritz Carlton credit card, within a calendar year, in addition to 10,000 Ritz points
  • Hilton Gold elite status after spending $20,000 on the Hilton Surpass card, within a calendar year, in addition to 60,000 Hilton Points (3 points per $1 spent for regular spending)
  • Starwood  (SPG) Gold elite status after spending $30,000 on the SPG business card, within a calendar year, in addition to 30,000 SPG points (1 point per $1 spent for regular spending)
  • Marriott Gold elite status after spending $105,000 on the Chase Marriott Premier card, within a calendar year, in addition to 105,000 points (1 point per $1 spent for regular spending)

You can also get a1-tier elite status upgrade with Best Western after spending $6,000 within a calendar year on the Barclays Best Western card.

Spend Your Way to Hotel Elite Status – The Details

1.   Best Western

Link:  Barclays Best Western MasterCard (Personal)

  • Earn a 1 tier elite status upgrade when you spend $6,000 within 1 calendar year

2.   Hilton

Both the Citi Hilton Reserve and the American Express Surpass card let you earn Hilton Diamond status by spending $40,000 within 1 year.

However, the Citi Hilton card does not have a foreign transaction fee, and gets you 1 free weekend night for spending $10,000 within a year.  You also earn 10  points at Hilton hotels with the Citi Hilton Reserve compared to 9 points with the American Express reserve card.

But having the American Express  Hilton card, gets you access to discounted AXON awards, so the best option could be spending $40,000 on the Citi Hilton Reserve, but keeping a fee-free version of the American Express Hilton card to get access to the discounted AXON awards.

Citi Hilton Reserve

Link:   Citi Hilton Reserve (Personal)

  • Top-tier Hilton Diamond status when you spend $40,000 within a calendar year & Gold elite status just by keeping the card
  • 1 free weekend night after spending $10,000 within each membership year

American Express Hilton Surpass

Link:   American Express Hilton Surpass (Personal)

3.   Marriott

Link:   Chase Marriott Premier (Personal)

Link:   Chase Marriott Premier (Business)

You need 50 nights for Gold status and 75 nights for Platinum status, but you get 15 nights credit just by having the Chase Marriott cards.

So you need only 35 nights (50 nights – 15 nights credit) for Gold elite status or $105,000 (35 nights X $3,000 per night)

And 60 nights (75 nights – 15 nights credit) for Platinum status or $180,000 (60 nights X $3,000 per night)

4.   Ritz-Carlton

Link:   Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards (Personal)

  • Free Gold elite status for the first year; maintain gold status by spending $10,000 each calendar year after 1st year

5.   Starwood

Link:  American Express SPG card (Personal)

Link:  American Express SPG card (Business)

  • Mid-tier SPG Gold status after spending $30,000 a year with the SPG Business card
  • 2 stays and 5 nights credit towards elite status each calendar year on the personal and business cards
  • 25% bonus when you transfer SPG points to select airlines in increments of 20,000 points

Starwood Gold elite status via American Express Platinum card

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36 responses to “Big Spenders: Spend Your Way to Hotel Elite Status

  1. Sounds like you’ll be able to make a slight addition to the HHonors section of this post after this morning’s announcement of the new Citibank Visa HHonors Reserve card! This may have to replace the AmEx HHonors as the perks are a bit better, imo.Signup Bonus: 2 free weekend nights after $2500 in spend within four months. These free nights are valid at all Hilton redemption categories including Waldorf Astoria properties.Anniversary Bonus: 1 free weekend night each year after $10,000 in spend.Earning: 10 HHonors points per dollar on Hilton spend, 5 points per dollar on air and car rental, and 3 on everything else.Elite status: Instant Hilton Gold status which you retain as long as you have the card and Diamond status after $40,000 in annual spend.No foreign currency transaction fees.Annual fee: $95, not waived the first year.Per View From The Wing – Citibank Introduces Awesome New Hilton HHonors Reserve Card: http://t.co/NR6BtB4N

  2. I got the AMEX Plat in August 2011. The perk was Gold Status with SPG with the expiration date 2/28/2013. If I cancel my card next month to avoid the annual fee, will AMEX cancel my Gold Status immediately or allow me to ride it out till 2/28/2013 ?

  3. 180k? That’s illogical and impossible.

  4. I assume as it is a Calendar year spend, one still get the remainder of that year PLUS the full next year at Diamond for the HH Surpass card if $40k spend??? I just got the card a week ago and seems unfair to have to spend it in 6 months, but guess easier for them to track on calendar year.
    Also assume the Gold you get for joining continues through the next calendar year – or do I revert to Silver/Blue on 1 Jan and have to re-earn status from that point?? I guess Diamond main advantage over Gold is more points per $ spend and use of Hotel Elite Lounge even if not on Elite Floor?

  5. Ok, to further this discussion, what hotel programs will match status from another program? If I can HH Diamond via spend, can I then leverage this into enhanced status with SPG, Hyatt or another program????

    • @palmerlaw – The new Citi Reserve card is better than the AMEX Surpass in almost every way, except that you don’t get access to the AXON awards using the Citi Reserve card. But I’ll update the post to include this card as a potentially better card!

      @sil – I’m not sure, but I suspect your SPG Gold status could still last after cancelling.

      @Joe – It is 75 nights for Marriott Platinum, but you get 15 nights credit for having the Chase Marriott card. So you need to spend $3,000 X 60 = $180,000 to get Marriott Platinum status with the Chase Marriott Credit card.

      @SAPMAN
      – Another advantage of Diamond is the likelihood of getting better room upgrades.

      @Pointasaraus – Many hotel programs will match status, but some may only give you a limited window (a few months) and expect you to stay a certain number of times to maintain the status longer. You get the Diamond status for the year in which you complete the spending and the rest of the next year.

  6. >> However, the Citi Hilton card does have a foreign transaction fee
    I believe that should read “…does *not* have a foreign transaction fee…”, correct?

  7. CanadianMillionMiler

    @Daruis- To use the AXON rate, you don’t need the AMEX Surpass card, simply the no-fee Amex Hhonors card will qualify you for the AXON redemption.

  8. I just passed to $30k spennd threshold on my SPG Amex (still read as preferred status), but can’t find where they say that’ll get you to gold status. Any suggestions?

  9. Don’t forget, you also get Hyatt Platinum status with the United Club card, $395 annual fee but with no annual spend requirement.

  10. Does Hilton offer a lifetime status?

  11. Hi, just curious, when do you think the SPG 30000 bonus would be back for this year?

  12. I dont have any Hilton credit cards but I do have 120k Hilton points. (i got the 120k by transferring 60k FF miles)

    And I just received Hilton Gold status and the gold card valid till 2014th. (There was a trick to get gold status and I was able to get it)

    Do I get free room upgrade to suite or executive room from the lowest paid standard room that I book?
    Do I get free breakfast, wifi with rooms booked with my hilton points or i get those with credit card purchase only?

    please advice!

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  15. does the business starwood version no longer gives you 2 stays or 5 nights towards elite status? It’s not listed in the card description.

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  17. Michael Belisle

    I don’t know if this has been discussed yet. what exactly is hilton elite status bonus. my question is if i get gold status will i get the 25% bonus on all points earned with the hilton amex card in addition to the 6x?

    • @Michael Belisle – The elite status bonus are extra points on the base amount of points you earn for the stay. You don’t earn the bonus points on the 6X points on the AMEX card, just on the base points you earn for staying at a Hilton hotel.

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  19. I have some questions on hotel status.
    1) Is the status based on who makes the reservation or who is in the room?
    2) Does it matter what your status is when you make the reservation or when you check in?

    For my case, I’m currently Hilton Gold and I want to book two rooms (3 people in one room, 2 in another) for June before the point devaluation. By that time I should have Diamond status. Will everyone in both rooms get the benefits of Diamond (Lounge access, possible upgraded room)?

    Thanks so much for any help.

    • @Paul – Usually status follows the person who made the booking. You get the status benefits based on the status you have at time of check in. I’d email the hotel or remind them at check in that you are a diamond member so you should get the benefits of status when you check in.

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  25. Hi,
    You state that “you will get 1 free night for spending more than $10,000 on the Citi Reserve card.” I spent 10k, and I called Citi to ask about this, and they said that they did not know anything about the free night for spending 10k. Any suggestions?
    Thanks.

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